England topped the group and didn't lose a game, but there are still concerns in the squad.

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England World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

England qualified comfortably for the 2018 World Cup without setting the world alight. They were unbeaten in 10 games but scored only 18 goals and often struggled to break down defensive-minded teams. Gareth Southgate stepped up from an under-21 role following Sam Allardyce’s surprise exit. There were disappointing crowds at Wembley – but England still had the highest average attendance of any European qualifier.

Related: World Cup TV Schedule

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Sep 2016
Sam Allardyce quits as manager after 67 days and one game in charge – the 1-0 victory over Slovakia – following a newspaper “sting”.
Jun 2017
An injury-time equaliser from Harry Kane earns a 2-2 draw with Scotland at Hampden Park.
Sep 2017
After struggling to break down a Malta side that put 10 men behind the ball, England score three times in the last five minutes. Three days later, they recover from conceding an early goal to beat Slovakia 2-1.
Oct 2017
A 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley confirms qualification in front of a disappointing crowd at Wembley.

England World Cup Group

England are the final team in Group G. The other three sides are Eden Hazard and Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.

England World Cup Friendlies

England’s first 2018 warm-up match was against the Netherlands on the 23rd of March, and then Italy followed four days later. Two more friendlies follow on the 2nd and 7th of June against Nigeria, and Costa Rica.

  • 23rd March – Netherlands (won 1-0)
  • 27th March – Italy (drew 1-1)
  • 2nd June – Nigeria
  • 7th June – Costa Rica

Related: World Cup Friendlies

England World Cup Fixtures

England open their campaign against Tunisia on the 18th of June. Panama follow six days later, and then the potentially massive clash against Belgium is on the 28th.

Related: World Cup Fixtures

The Coach 

Gareth Southgate, age 47 (03.09.70)
Caretaker from September 2016, he was handed a four-year deal that November. Previously the under-21s’ manager, he played in the 1998 World Cup finals, where England lost in the round of 16, and missed a crucial penalty in England’s Euro 96 semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany.

Pressure: Southgate has got England going in the right direction, but he will be under pressure in Russia (Getty Images)

The Players 
Stars
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane rescued the side on a number of occasions with crucial goals and was appointed captain in October 2017.
Stalwarts
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli makes clever runs from midfield. Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson was Southgate’s preferred choice to anchor the midfield, with Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is a vibrant attacking right-back. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford was deployed as a wide attacker or from the bench.
Missing
All-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from international football in August 2017. Liverpool pair Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge missed much of the qualifying campaign through injury.
Debuts
Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks made his debut in the final qualifier against Lithuania. Centre-backs Harry Maguire and Michael Keane, and right-back Kieran Trippier also featured during qualifying.

Related: World Cup Stadiums

England World Cup Squad

Preliminary World Cup Squad – 

Goalkeepers – Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope

Defenders – Ryan Bertrand, Joe Gomez, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young

Midfielders – Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jack Wilshere

Forwards – Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy

We originally had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the squad.

England World Cup Injuries

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out with a knee injury picked up against Roma during the Champions League.

Striker: Kane will lead the line in Russia, and has to take his chances when they come (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Who will score the goals if Harry Kane is injured?
Kane was top scorer in the qualifiers, while Jamie Vardy has struggled to repeat his Leicester form of two years ago, and all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney is no longer available.

Is Joe Hart the right man to be first-choice keeper?
He has struggled for form since leaving Manchester City and was criticised for conceding two free-kicks against Scotland. Jordan Pickford of Everton and Burnley’s Tom Heaton are both exciting long-term prospects.

Dilemma: Does Southgate go with Hart or Pickford between the sticks? (Getty Images)

Which players could make a late push for inclusion?
Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks looks a highly accomplished prospect, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin – a star of England’s Under-20 triumph – needs game time at Everton. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the star of the November friendly against Germany.

Could Jack Wilshere be recalled?
England lacked creativity in midfield in the qualifiers, but although Wilshere could provide that spark he has struggled to make Arsenal’s starting line-up following injuries.

Will Southgate opt for a back three?
The manager has encouraged all England teams, from under-17s upwards, to play 4-2-3-1 but has recently experimented with a 3-4-3.

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